The Bloomington airport (3-letter code BMI) has commuter airline service from Chicago, St. Louis and beyond.
Interstate highways 39, 55 and 74 converge on the south side of Bloomington and divide again on the north side of Normal. I-55 follows the historic route of Route 66 through central Illinois, except that Route 66 bypassed the Twin Cities on the east rather than on the west as the interstates do. Veterans Parkway, the east-side bypass (known to locals as the "Belt Line Road"), was the Route 66 route in the immediate pre-Interstate period. Earlier, 66 passed through downtown Bloomington and into residential Normal. The route given in the Route 66 page reflects this original alignment, known as "Business 66" after Veterans Parkway was built.
You can easily take a train from Chicago.
• Lake Bloomington and Evergreen Lake are two man-made lakes north of town that offer fishing, camping, and boating opportunities.
• If you're doing the Route 66 tour northbound, the next significant bit of Americana is in the small town of Pontiac, which hosts a large summertime "tractor pull." Southbound, stop in McLean at the Dixie Truckers Home, a prototypical (and, according to some, the nation's first) truck stop.
The Twin Cities are located in the heart of Central Illinois, approximately 125 miles southwest of Chicago, 155 miles northeast of St. Louis, and 64 miles northeast of Springfield, the State Capital. Bloomington is the County Seat of McLean County, the largest county in Illinois (approximately 762,240 acres). Interstates 39, 55 and 74 converge on Bloomington-Normal, as well as US Route 51 and State Route 9.
The Twin Cities are also serviced by four major railroad lines and Amtrak, as well as air transportation at the Central Illinois Regional Airport, one of the fastest growing airports in the country, which services commuter, corporate, and private aircraft.
The Twin Cities are located in one of the most productive agricultural areas in the nation, but the economy is diverse and well-balanced. In addition to the major manufacturers and industries, there are two universities, three hospitals, a convention center, two indoor malls, an outdoor outlet mall, and many banks and Savings & Loan Associations located in Bloomington-Normal. The City of Bloomington is one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in Illinois with an estimated 20.25% increase in population between 1986 and 1995. New construction continues to enhance residential, industrial and commercial growth.
Miller Park, on the south side of town, is a pleasant place for a picnic and hosts a small but interesting zoo, with a good rain-forest exhibit (fee).
• Bloomington is the county seat of McLean County, the largest and most prosperous county in downstate Illinois farming territory, and as such hosts the McLean County Fair, a particularly durable example of the county-fair genre. Fairgrounds are on the east side of town near the airport. Vast quantities of livestock on display, if you're into that sort of thing, with other Midwestern things to see/do/eat. Check locally for dates, typically in early August.
• Most of Normal's activities revolve around Illinois State University in one way or another. See the link below for current information on what's happening at the university.
• Central Illinois is not usually thought of as much of a place for hiking, to put it mildly, but a very pleasant and popular parkway for walking, biking and blading follows the former route of the Illinois Central Railroad north from the ISU campus in Normal to the outskirts of town.
It's not fine dining by any means, but the original Steak & Shake drive-in, pioneer of what is now a substantial Midwestern restaurant chain, sits nearly astride the dividing line between Bloomington and Normal (Division Street), on Main Street south of the university area. Go for a steak burger and a taste of what life was like along Route 66 50 (and more) years ago.
• Comfort Inn Bloomington Hotel 500 Brock Dr. (309) 828-6000. Located at exit #160A of Interstate Highways 55 and 74. Also at this exit are a multitude of restaurants: fast food, not so fast food, and some 24-hour food. Walk to McDonalds or Cracker Barrel, or drive merely minutes to other popular eateries.
• Econo Lodge Bloomington Hotel 403 Brock Dr. (309) 829-3100. Real value and convenience for both business and leisure travelers. Secure Online Reservations.
• Quality Inn & Suites Bloomington Hotel 401 Brock Dr. (309) 829-7602. Located on the East side of the intersection of Illinois Highway 9 and Interstate 74 and 55 on the West side of the city. Full service restaurants and shopping are in the immediate area. Truck and bus parking is available.
Adapted from WikiTravel under the Wiki License
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